Controversial Nata-Gweta MP, Paulson Majaga, has expressed grave concern that former employees of the now defunct Mowana mine in Mosetse village have not been paid their wages.
The mine situated about 114 kilometres west of Francistown has shut down and re-opened on numerous occasions under different management. Currently the mine has been placed under judicial management and is likely to be completely shut down again. Negotiations between Leboam Holdings, the company that is currently holding the mining licenses for the troubled Mowana and creditors are still underway. At the time the mine ceased operation on December 18, 2018 media reports indicated that the company owed the taxman P13 million. Media reports further stated that workers were also owed a collective P7.2 million for unpaid salaries dating back to October 2018.
Prior to the mining licenses being transferred to Leboam, in 2015, the license was held by Messina Copper Botswana which was finally placed under the hummer on December 15 2015. Consequently, the High Court made an order on 16 January 2017 that the mining license and other mineral concessions held by Messina be transferred to Leboam.
In an interview with The Patriot on Sunday, Majaga vented his frustrations accusing management of the copper mine of behaving like mafia in their operations, whose only motive for coming to Botswana was to enrich themselves and vanish into thin air. “The former miners are owed their salaries but the mine management has disappeared into thin air without paying the disgruntled former employees even their terminal benefits,” he charged. Majaga observed that to avoid such heart-breaking incidents of frequent mines closure, government should take the initiative of placing mining officers on site such as Production Managers that will monitor the affairs of such operations on behalf of government.
“My suggestion is that government should pay 50 per cent of the expenses of such officers while the company holding mining rights pay the remaining 50 per cent. My reasons being that such officers will not be biased and they will ensure that our mines are run smoothly to avoid overwhelming job loses,” the outspoken Majaga narrated. He added that he has presented the idea to minerals Minister Eric Molale. He is of the view that many mining entities have collapsed locally due to poor monitoring mechanisms from government. The controversial politician hit out on directors and permanent secretaries in the ministry of minerals, accusing them of being incompetent and failing to keep a close eye on mines that continue to collapse and leaving Batswana in debts and impoverished. He revealed that the reason why he has been denied a cabinet position is that he is not afraid to speak his mind adding that he will continue to advocate for his constituency in parliament as that is his primary role. Majaja asserted that during the on-going parliament session, he will table a question to Molale about how government will assist the unpaid former Mowana employees.
“Many people built houses in Dukwi and Mosetse villages to rent them out for the miners at Mowana but they are now disappointed as the mine is closed. They had hoped that they will earn a living from rental fees that there were going to receive from the miners,” he declared. Since the closure of the mine, Mojaga said unemployment in the surrounding villages has sky rocketed as the youth were being employed by some of the private companies that were subcontracted at the mine.